Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Liturgical Lifestyle | October Overview

October is Ordinary Time, but my wheels have been running away with me this September, and I need to get to grips with things.  Now that I'm finally still for a good couple of weeks and am awaiting immigration progress, I feel like some orderliness is called for.

The plan: a sort of "fast," a.k.a. go back to eating healthfully like I did midsummer.  Fasts, which are more like abstaining in that I avoid certain foods, have been a regular part of my life since trying to live according to the liturgical year.  I have high aims for monastery soups and herbal teas, but will probably fall back onto my faithful old peanut butter and apples combination.  I want to brush up on my spiritual life as well, and with Afon safe under the care of his daddy and teachers in Wales, I'm more flexible about packing up and off to Mass or services at odd times of the day . . . if I can get the car before someone else does.

I wish I could look forward to curling up next to a wood-burning stove or in a wool sweater, but it's hot as . . . you know . . . out here.  My grandmother is expecting a visit, however, and she might be open to drive north into the mountains.  I was just up at Nashville last weekend to photograph a wedding, and fall is blooming in the foothills.

I'm a jumble of thoughts and disorganization, so . . . anyone want to go in on this diet/fast/spiritual retreat with me?  If I'm real good, I'll even frame my day around a monastery schedule (which I have never been able to execute successfully).

I'm cringing as I imagine two weeks from now looking back on this and seeing I've stuck with approximately none of it!  What do you do to get motivated/stay on task?  What's the month ahead look like for you?

Monday, 28 September 2015


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Roan:  with his "Auntie" Ashley at the wedding I photographed this past weekend.  He was a good boy for Grandmama so Mama could give all her attention to taking pictures!

Afon is back in Wales with Daddy while Roan and I made our way west to the States for the wedding I booked in February.  We're jumping through some immigration hoops and hope to be back in Wales within a few weeks.  Please pray!

Monday, 21 September 2015


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Afon:  and just like that, my baby is a little boy.  Riding on the back of the bike with his daddy, it's rare and difficult to capture his deep gaze.

Roan:  eager to get his hands on anything and everything.  And then to put those things in his mouth.

Friday, 18 September 2015

#7QT in Pictures

Roan Reuel turned 8 months old on the 14th.  He is sure is big for a baby who can't sit up on his own!

We finally got Afon his uniform trousers (not pictured), a second sweatshirt, and four more polo shirts--that makes five, one for each day of the week.  I don't know who thought it was a good idea to give four-year-olds one set of uniform clothes to start with.  We're still looking for a pair of black shoes that will fit him.

The name of his school means "sound of the waves" in Welsh.

At the local camera store, looking at all the lovely things I can't buy.  But this wide angle lens is on my wish list.

It's not too soon to watch Hocus Pocus, right?

Didn't think so.

(Not the same brick wall.)

Have a great weekend, guys!

Linking up at This Ain't the Lyceum for some very lazy Quick Takes.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

The Road Not Taken

Did you ever notice. . ?  The line everyone loves to quote from that poem is "I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."  Yet the title of the poem is The Road Not Traveled.  If the difference is a good one, why does the title dwell on what was and is now lost?

What if a decision I make today significantly steers the course of my life?  We only get this one lifetime, and it's alarmingly short.  If I choose one thing, does that mean I sacrifice another?

I've been thinking a lot about my photography.  It brings me a lot of joy, and a lot of discomfort.  I'm a perfectionist of the worst sort, and feeling bad about my photographs can put a gloom over the day; feeling good about them can put a skip in my step.  It's just the way with art, isn't it?  The artistic drive, under which pressure the great works of mankind are forged.

I really want to gain more technical knowledge in photography, and it is an expensive hobby.  As a career, it hardly pays for itself.  With digital photography making it more available to the masses, the market is over-saturated (though, I am happy to report, wildly supportive of each other).  So I can't exactly rationalize further expenses and forays into the field for the sake of wealth.  It will have to be something I do because I am passionate about it and find it worthy of sacrifice.

Then I wonder if one of the things I will be choosing to sacrifice will be writing.

I haven't written in over year, nor published in as long.  Some days, I feel like being a mother to young children for the time being fills that creative void in my life.  Other days, I feel it like a stopped faucet or a clogged drain, there's this pressure that isn't being relieved, and I wonder if I would have less anxiety and tendency toward depression if I were writing more, or writing at all.

I've talked with John on a couple of occasions about doing an online degree in photography and design.  I actually (very briefly) considered a photography major in college, at the (surprising!) suggestion of my photography professor, but dismissed it in the end because--get this!--I thought it wouldn't pan out as a career, so I stayed with this obscure English Writing degree instead!  At the time, it would have been a subject for a degree I would be getting anyway.  Now it is just a hunger, for a deepening knowledge in a craft that is part of my everyday life and which I may choose to cultivate.

But cultivate at what expense?  I've gone on before about how I'm a Jill of all trades and mistress of none.  It's something I'm not at peace with.  I want to excel, and I want to do everything at the same time.  Above and beyond even that, I want to be a storyteller with everything in me.  It's just that right now, I don't have the solitude, the time, or the space to write as I need or should.  Photography is a little more instant-gratification, a little more child-friendly and concrete and attainable.

What do you think?  If I chose to steer my life toward an expertise in photography, do I risk loosing that time I should be using to nurture my writing craft?  What would you choose?  Have you ever faced a decision like this?  Is this a first-world problem or what?


For further reading:

Monday, 14 September 2015


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Roan:  in his bath.  He still can't sit up properly, and I'm too nervous to get in with him because then we are both wet and slippery.  So I just lie him down in the warm suds, and he is such a good little fellow!

Afon:  he found something to chew on his shirt waiting at the bus top.  I like that shirt.  I do hope it lasts.

This past week feels like it has been rough, but honestly, everything is relative.  It's just that when I come down with a cold, I come down hard.  I feel pretty bad and that makes me stay in bed, which means the house gets out of order and I don't get fresh air and my mood plummets.  Also, Roan has caught my cold, and he has slept very poorly the past few nights.  He wants to sleep on top of me now like when he was a newborn, but he is much heavier.  Yesterday I woke up with the bones of my back moaning and my head pounding.

We turned it around with a pleasant visit with the grandparents, auntie, and cousin (pictures later in the week, I hope), and Afon has done remarkably well transitioning to school.  This morning, I am not too groggy or in pain.  Roan is sleeping off his cold, so I'm virtually weightless!  I've got the window open in the back room and am sitting with the lap top on the ledge and a cup of coffee and am feeling renewed in the fresh, cold Welsh morning.

Friday, 11 September 2015

30 Days Has September

Autumn is my favorite season.   September, October, November, I'm non-discriminatory.  I'm smitten with the contrast of crisp and cozy, and the smell of burning wood, and the goldenrod sunshine.   I'm always full of creative itches, but since we're stranded without our things for the time-being, I'm limited to virtual projects.   Thought I'd share these to pass the cheer of the season!

Do you have any special autumn traditions exclusive to September?

Thursday, 10 September 2015

What Roan Wore | Second-hand and Home-made

sweater // bespoke, hand-me-down
t-shirt // Next, hand-me-down
jeans // Old Navy, thrifted
socks // Peacock's

That sweater was made by our friend Caitlin for Afon when he was a baby.  It's gotten so much use and held up amazingly.  The t-shirt is a hand-me-down from Roan's little cousin James.  The Old Navy jeans were thrifted.  They came with tag, but frequent use (or my hard handling) has caused the mostly-for-show button to pop off.  The socks are the only new items of clothing in the entire outfit!  (You can't see them, but they have little grippy stars on the soles.)

Roan is a great big baby, at almost eight months, and he still can't crawl!  He prefers to lie on the big queen-size bed and have people entertain him or (I know, horrible!) watch Netflix.  He fusses almost immediately when you put him down and walk away.  John jokes that the bed is where Roan lives.  Because despite being uninterested in mobility, he is apt to roll off any shallow surface, like a couch or chair.  Now that big brother Afon is in school, I'll feel better about letting him loose on the floor.

He likes to rapidly open and close his palms, almost as if he were making the sign for "milk."  The use of his hands delights him, which in turn delights me because Afon didn't go through that stage.  He likes to grab my face and bite it!  His "speech" is developing into the funniest little noises ("p-p-p-p, puh, puh, b-b-b-b"), and he talks long and loud when everyone else is chatting around him.

Roan is drooling like a broken faucet again, so I expect a second tooth any day now!  Oh, but I do miss the sleep at night!

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Yarn Along

I decided I'd better make a hat for Afon after all Roan's bonnets.  He likes to "make socks" with my yarn and get it tangled.  When I crocheted baby booties, he tries to stuff his own ginormous feet in them, which is humorous and half guilt-inducing, because the poor baby obviously thinks (or wants, if he doesn't think) my labors to be for him.

I let him pick out the yarn.  "This one or this one?"  They were two same colors from Roan's bonnets.

He echoed, "This one," and sort of gestured toward the mustard color (which, by the way, is not a very nice name for such a luscious hue).

It's way too big, so I've got to pull out the rounds and redo them.

I'm still in The Queen of Air and Darkness from The Once and Future King.  There's more time to throw myself into reading and crochet since Afon started school on Monday, but a heavy, sniffly cold keeps me subdued.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Back-to-School Fall Fantasies

Print me!
I'm feeling all schoolish.  It's Afon's first day at Reception*, and while I'm so looking forward to having him in a structured environment with peers and out of my hair, part of me is a little sad that he wasn't the sort of pupil who could indulge my back-to-school fall fantasies.  This time of year, I can be caught sifting through curriculum (that I won't use) and brushing up on different homeschool philosophies.

Molly wrote about how she doesn't have the temperament to teach her children at home; while I should have, meanwhile, been a celibate teacher.  I'd wear one of those 90's dresses with buttons shaped like apples and get my hands chalky going over the themes of fall with young children I could send home at the end of the day!  To me, that sounds positively dreamy.  Of course, in this dream, there is no paperwork, angry parents, or children with disciplinary issues.

I know it's God's way of sanctifying me, that instead I have the disorder and lack the child I can connect with academically.  Anyway, there's still Roan.  ;)

I wanted to figure out this Waldorf thing once and for all, so last week I spent a good deal of time researching it, and I think I've discovered why it's so hard to pin down.  It's based on an occult religion called anthroposophy, but they don't like to broadcast that, and so the causal observer gets a bit of blanks to fill in when researching it in detail.

If Waldorf schooling was (or ever is) an option, I don't think we could do it because I get really hung up on reincarnation.  (Drives me crazy.  To me, nothing says, "Don't try your hardest, there's always next time," like reincarnation.  Plus, you know . . . heresy.)  And even though they don't explicitly teach it, it is apparently taken into consideration when nurturing and mentoring children in early education.  Weird things like, "So-in-so has behavior problems/allergies/a disease because he's working through issues in his past life."  There's also heavy evidence that white supremacy and racism is built inextricably into the philosophy.

The things that do draw me to Steiner schooling are its very overt ties to western folk traditions, thereby intertwining often and well with the liturgical year, and its emphasis on nature and natural things.  Waldorf toys are the most beautiful little pieces.  But Afon can't be trusted to appreciate (er, not rip up in his teeth) a nice expensive handmade toy.  A nature table would be routinely dismantled, with leaves and flowers ground into the carpet hourly.

So I'm hovering on the unformed cloud of ideas of how to extend his "schooling" at home, if at all.  He spends plenty of time outdoors, and when we're on the beach I like to "educate" him about the rocks, sea glass, empty crab shells, and mussels clinging to crags.  When we walk, I point out the plants I know to him.  I'd really like if we lived near a farm (Snowdonia? maybe some day!), so he could interact with the animals.  We tried the spring before last to grow some seedlings, which died after I neglected to cover them one cold night.

His imagination is basically limited to playing with cars, or I'd stuff his little dirty palms full of saint peg dolls.  Afon is, however, a mini genius at drawing.  I'll have to share some of his pictures on here some time.  The attention to detail is impressive, and I'm not just saying that 'cause I'm his mom!  No impressionistic Steiner watercolors for my little man.  He ploughs through reams and reams of paper.  I hope some day I will be able to to get him to keep a sturdy sketchbook he can take with him everywhere, that will become a treasure for his later years in life.

Afon loves "cooking" and "knitting," and I think in a few years time, after he's got some therapy in him and is able to follow directions, I'll teach him how to crochet.  As for beeswax . . . I'm pretty sure he'd just eat it.  :P

By the way, here is the big boy himself setting off on his dad's bike for the first day:

What are your schoolish thoughts this time of year?  I'm really nosy!

*Reception is the year in the UK that children go into school, the year they turn five.  I'm not sure, curriculum-wise, how it compares to preschool and kindergarden in the States.

Sunday, 6 September 2015


"A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015."

Roan:  "Daddy's happy chappy," in the autumn bonnet Mama made for him.  

Lately, he's enjoyed opening and closing and clenching his little fat fists.  The soles of his feet are round and puffy.  His entire body, in fact, is reminiscent of a pastry.

Afon:  at Gillian's, the local food place.  My little boy will start his first day of school tomorrow!

Friday, 4 September 2015

#7QT: autumn chill, charity shop finds, and Saint Rosalia

-- one --

We turned the heater on for the first time last night, on a low setting.  The temperature hasn't peaked into the 60's (fahrenheit) since {September arrived}.

(Pictured above: back when it was "summer" in Wales.  Ha!)

Fall and winter are my favorite seasons, though I'm apt to think of the season I'm in or about to start as my favorite.  Still, this Halloween-lover is stoked to see September unfold in a part of the world where the trees put on their fall finery.

Then, at the end of September, Roan and I are going back to the States for me to photograph a wedding and for John to get my immigration started.  Prayers for a smooth and speedy application appreciated.

-- two --

There's this little cat named Rosie who belongs to the couple living below us.  She always sits in the same exact spot of green lawn in the garden.  Just sits there, looking out into the little world that is her back yard, with her paws curled beneath her.  I don't know why, but it makes me happy.

-- three --

I pilfered seven!!! well-kept articles of used clothing for Roan this week at the charity shop.  For 1.75 pounds.  Good old British charity shops!

I also found the complete set of Beatrix Potter books--in their original children size formatting!--for under 5 pounds total!  They're a 1990's printing, in box sets, in pristine condition.  At a different charity shop.  Ever since listening to the {Read Aloud Revival} episode about building a personal library, my spidey senses are heightened for bargain classics.

-- four --

Afon is starting school next week!  We're meeting with the head teacher today to discuss uniforms, etc.

I always give a lot of thought to educational methods this time of year, and I have some thoughts half written out about Waldorf education, a style which has mystified and intrigued me for several years now.  Hope to get that up on the blog sooner rather than later.

-- five --

Today is one of my feast days on the liturgical calendar.  Saint Rosalia was my confirmation saint.  And while I chose her, at the time, for the way her name would sound with mine, I'm since convinced that there was providence in our meeting.  In another life, I could have been a hermitess.  I think about how she withdrew to pour her all into her vocation, and I can envision a parallel world where I live in a tiny studio apartment, poor as dirt, and write.

So, some pink moscato and a rosy cake for today's name day celebration?

Santa Rosalia, ora pro nobis!

-- six --

Lately, on Everything to Someone:

-- seven --

Quick and interesting clicks!  Check out:

Linking up with Christy! this week for {Seven Quick Takes Friday}.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Yarn Along // autumn bonnets

Instead of finishing {the last baby bonnet}, I threw myself into making these two new ones because I preferred the yarn.  I like to crochet in pairs or threesomes.  The first go is like practice, in which I go slowly, make mistakes, and figure things out.  Then I like to do another one right away, while the ins and outs and pitfalls of the pattern are still fresh.  I had to get this right because September, personified, is a enthusiastic child, saying, "I'm here, I'm here!"  And while I'm sure there are some lovely days of Indian summer still ahead of us, the first of the month arrived with a wintry whim.  Today's been the same.

Next I want to crochet a hat for Afon.

That ball of yarn is my first wheel-spun thread.  The thick lobs are there because the teacher said it was a shame I spun so even, so we left some lumps in there for good measure.  "It's beautiful, lovely, lumpy wool," she said, "and as you get better you can't do it any more."

When I get busy crocheting, I replace television and movie-watching with book-reading, so I haven't got any further this week with T.H. White, but I did pick up my favorite random mag of mischievous miscellany, Oh Comely.

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